China trade surplus shrinks in January
Official figures have today revealed Chinese imports soared by 51% in January compared with a year ago – far exceeding forecasts of a 28% increase.
Meanwhile, exports grew 38% in January on an annual basis, according to the customs authorities. Again, this easily beat expectations of a 22.4% rise.
The strong rise in imports led China’s trade surplus to fall to a nine-month low of $6.5 billion (£4.06 billion ) from $13.1 billion in December.
Analysts had expected it to be around the $12 billion mark.
The figures are closely watched because the US has previously accused China of manipulating its currency to boost exports.
Trade groups have argued that China’s currency, the yuan, also referred to as the renminbi, is kept up to 40% below what its value should be against the US dollar.
Beijing loosened its currency peg last June but the US has remarked that the yuan has appreciated just 3.5% against the dollar since that time.
In other news today, it has been revealed that China has now officially become the world’s second largest economy – taking over from Japan, which slides into the third place.
At the end of 2010, Japan’s economy was worth $5.474 trillion (£3.414 trillion), while the Chinese economy was worth $5.8 trillion at the end of last year.